I had previously done a lot of traveling in 2017, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I decided (on a whim) to create an outlet for myself where I would share my travels and eats. I debated on whether I wanted to retroactively blog about those past experiences and for a while, I decided not to…but rather start fresh and focus on what I had going on in the present. As I look into my iPhone’s camera roll, I am reminded by memories of some great times and great foods and then thought – well, why wouldn’t I want to relive this? And so, a new idea came to mind – a series of posts themed around sharing past excursions and cuisines. Disclaimer: while I was doing most of my traveling last year, the thought that I would be sharing these experiences in a written digital platform, had never crossed my mind. So some of the content in these posts will mainly be pictures of dishes I consumed, which back then (and now lol), I did mostly for the ‘gram. But now that I’ve added a bit more substance to what I’ve been sharing on popular social media, it seems a bit silly not to share my travel memories from the past.
First stop – Italy!
Around this time last year, my best friend Kristina (whom I met in college) asked me to come along with her while she traveled to Italy and Greece. Interestingly enough, I had already gone to both of these countries during a study abroad program while enrolled in junior college in 2012, so I was absolutely ecstatic for the opportunity to join her. Unfortunately, due to work, I couldn’t go along with her while she traveled to Greece, but we spent a little over a week together exploring Italy. While planning out our trip, we narrowed down 3 specific major cities that we wanted to visit – Florence, Venice, and Rome. We would stay a few days in each city, hop on a train to another, and repeat. Other than having to haul our luggage everywhere, this was easily the best option to travel around within the country and was extremely affordable, not to mention the trains were comfortable and clean.
Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena
(Ate more gelato than drank water)
(Catterdrale di Santa Maria del Fiore)
(Accademia Gallery – The Statue of David)
(Statue of David (copy) – Outdoors at the Piazzale Michelangelo)
Before we continue…I want to highlight an incredible dinner we had one night in Florence at the Osteria Santo Spirito. Kristina had this recommended to her by a co-worker as they are known for the most delicious truffle gnocchi. The gnocchi comes out served on a large, scorching hot plate and is buried under bubbly cheese with the perfect browned crust. This is an absolute must if you are visiting Florence.
To accompany the gnocchi above, I laid eyes on an item on the menu Grigliata Mista Di Carne, mixed grilled meats – a dish meant for 2 people. For 29€ ($32-$33) you are served a massive dish of steak, porkchops, lambchops, chicken, and sausage served on a bed of greens garnished with cherry tomatoes and coarse salt for seasoning. I am telling you…this plate was designed to feed Big Foot. This was an insane amount of meat and I did not regret a single second of it.
(The Leaning Tower of Pisa)
(Forno Moderno bakery in San Gimignano)
(Gelato is my friend)
(Antipasto in Siena)
Starting off with the capital city of Tuscany was the perfect place to kick off our Italian adventure. Florence (or Firenze) is known as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance and we were amazed with every church, monument, and sculpture we came across. One of the most mind-blowing things for me to see in Florence (and most of Italy, really) was how every site we visited was impressively preserved. You know, for how long it’s been there. When observing some of the larger architectural buildings, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there’s sort of an overwhelming feeling of humbleness as you stand from a distance looking at this grand piece of work and thinking – “Wow, this took how long to build? This took this many people to build it? And it’s been here for how long?” Certainly, the people of the country take pride in keeping the rich history in-tact for generations to come and to always be proud of the past.
Next stop – Venice!